Runners pass a Comrades marathon refreshment station. Photo: @ComradesRace on twitter
Runners pass a Comrades marathon refreshment station. Photo: @ComradesRace on twitter

Comrades medical facility ready to go to work

By Matshelane Mamabolo Time of article published May 28, 2019

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JOHANNESBURG – Doctor Jeremy Boulter is the Comrades Marathon Medical Convener. And so it is not surprising that he will talk up their medical facility.

“The Comrades Medical Facility has been described as the single largest medical facility outside of a conflict zone anywhere in the world,” he says.

Sure he is not the one describing the facility as such.

But ask any runner who has done the Ultimate Human Race and ended up at the medical tent at the finish and they will probably tell you it is not only the largest but probably the best too.

I ended up there during last year’s run, having gotten my fuelling horribly wrong and suffered a severe case of dehydration. Lying down on the bed, covered with two space blankets and a drip pumping in requisite fluids to get me back to normal, I could not help but marvel at the calm and professional manner the medicos dealt with runners scared they are knock, knocking on heaven’s doors.

Matshelane Mamabolo enjoying some 'magic spray' during this year's Comrades. Photo: @Tshiliboy via Twitter
Writer Matshelane Mamabolo enjoying some 'magic spray' during the Comrades. Photo: @Tshiliboy via Twitter

Nothing seemed to surprise them as runner after runner got brought in on stretchers, clearly suffering from different post-race traumas.

The largest and the best medical facility it is, no doubt.

And it has to be given that it caters for a little under 20 000 runners who have to cover the insanely long distance of close on 90km.

Deaths, collapses, dehydration, cramped legs and blistered feet as well as just sheer fatigue are all part and parcel of this demanding race. But the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) are aware of this and are leaving nothing to chance as they seek to ensure runners’ safety during and after the race.

Yesterday the CMA shared their medical plans for the 94th running of the race, revealing that there will be no less than 16 ambulances on the 87km route from Durban to Pietermaritzburg equipped with satellite tracking so there is optimal response times to attend to runners in difficulty. There will also well as six rapid response vehicles with advanced life support paramedics and full emergency equipment; six motor bikes with paramedics and a helicopter on standby.

Added to all those will be eight medical and eight physio-stations all of them manned by professionals as well as students in training.

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At the finish inside the Scottsville Racecourse where the medical needs are often the highest as runners reach the end depleted of not only their energies but physical strength, the CMA will once again have a medical tent which will include critical care facilities manned by 65 doctors and 20 nurses.

It will also have a mini laboratory as well as an ICU resuscitation area with dedicated specialist emergency team.

Runners making their way to this year’s Up Run will do so content that whatever they suffer on the road or at the end of their race, they will be well taken care of.



The Star

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